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Everything posted by Trent_Hill

  1. I think the distinction has partly to do with technology, partly to do with economics. For optimal tone quality, volume, and projection, violin tops and backs are carved very thinly, and the degree of thinness depends on the qualities of an individual piece of wood. Moreover, the top plate isn't graduated to the same thickness all over--it's thicker in some parts, thinner in others. And, while not all makers do this, some swear by the process of "tuning" the plates so they vibrate at specific frequencies when tapped. It would be hard, if not impossible, to program a machine to perform those operations and, more particularly, to make those judgements. As far as the "factory" distinction goes, I think factory instruments tend to be less valuable because the workers who make them tend to be less skilled. You could, in theory, have a factory instrument each of whose parts had been made by a master luthier that would be the equal (or better) in quality of an instrument made by a single master, but top quality luthiers usually can make more working alone. I actually saw a violin in my local shop once whose back and ribs were definitely made by one of the Amati family but whose belly was made by a Guarneri. It was a smallish instrument, but tremendously loud and powerful. Which it should have been, given its price. quote: Originally posted by Mairead: I've had a bit of trouble with the concept of 'handmade' in fiddles, too. In silver smithing, 'handmade' means 'no power tools'. In fiddles, it means 'one maker', who can presumably use whatever tools she/he likes. So a fiddle that is carefully done using traditional handwork methods, but by more than one person, is a 'factory' or at best 'workshop' instrument rather than a 'handmade' instrument. It seems strange, particularly as folk seem to handwave this pejorative in the case of Strads etc.
  2. Squawk, I think that you'll find there's little consensus and a lot of crossover in all directions. I play Klezmer fiddle and prefer Obligatos, though I also like Dominants on my fiddle. A friend of mine, who's an excellent, excellent Scots player, uses Dominants (but is going to try Obligatos soon). My Romanian violin teacher uses Helicores because they sound like synthetics, and my luthier (who also is a good fiddle player) seems to lean towards Dominants or Tonicas. So it's really hard to say. A lot of old-time, bluegrass, and country fiddlers like steel strings in part because they're very stable under combat conditions and can give some instruments more bite and punch, but many others like synthetics because they're easier on the fingers and have more tonal possibilities. As far as classical players go, I think they mostly tend towards synthetics or gut (though that is not universal). The preferred combo for a lot of Russian violinists is / was a gut G and D w/ metal A. Most everybody, except for some Baroque specialists, use some flavor of metal E. Hope this helps Trent
  3. Szilva, Thanks for the link to the incredible website. I'm currently downloading like a fiend. Any other good Hungarian or Romanian mp3 sites you could recommend?
  4. quote: Originally posted by uncletom: Could u explain in more details on changing the practice technique and changing myself. My teacher told me that I had great progress in the earlier few years and slow down a lot in the recent 6 months. I don't know why, but I also feel I have not much progress recently. I am now playing some Bach partitas. Many thanks. I can give you some examples of what I meant there: I recently had a really hard time working a pretty fast passage of 16th notes up to speed in a klezmer tune I was trying to learn and had fallen into the trap of just playing the **** thing over and over again and getting frustrated. Playing it slowly, playing it quickly--nothing really seemed to help. So one night I picked up my copy of Simon Fischer's _Basics_ (a book I cannot recommend too highly) and started leafing through it until I stumbled across a couple little exercises that looked like they might be helpful. I did them for a week and then tried getting the tune up to speed. No problem. As far as changing yourself goes: My first teacher, a truly wonderful man who I disagreed with in almost every way possible except when it came to music, made the observation to me one day that I was obviously a "type-A" personality, competitive, demanding on myself, tense, etc. This was not a criticism on his part, but an observation based on how I seemed to be attacking a musical problem I was having. I've never really thought of myself as being that uptight, so I protested, until I realized that, in fact, I was putting waaaay too much pressure on myself to play up to what I thought was my potential. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my teacher's musical observation was true in general: while I've never outwardly seemed that driven (some of my friends have even said of me, in different contexts, that I'm lazy), I've always felt that if I wasn't a superstar in whatever I was doing, it wasn't worth doing at all. So ever since then, I've tried to give myself permission, each day, to not be a superstar, or to be an abject failure, or a moderate success, or whatever I happen to be that day, that week, this life. I owe a lot to my old teacher. Sorry for the personal ramble, but it seemed relevant. Trent
  5. u.t., there are many plateaus, some of which are pretty universal, some of which are particular to the individual. You can get past some of them by changing your practice techniques, while others require changing your self. This is part of what I find so rewarding about the fiddle. Which plateua are you on? Trent
  6. After I started playing violin about five years ago (actually, five years ago this month! Woohoo!), I more or less stopped playing guitar, an instrument I'd played for about twenty years but had reached a loooong plateau on. Besides not being as interested in guitar, I was finding that it really turned my left-hand fingers to chowder. I recently acquired a nylon-string guitar to use in songwriting. After about two weeks of intermittent practicing, I got most of my chops back, which was nice. And it definitely helps my fiddle playing. Even with nylon strings, the guitar is harder to finger than my violin, the reaches are much longer, etc., which makes violin seem easier than otherwise.
  7. Shantinik, I tried the Sostenuto out a couple of months ago and returned it. Basically, it seems to be designed to give the violin a little bit of elevation and a little more friction (and give your collarbone a little bit of protection); it doesn't stabilize the violin nearly as much as a shoulder rest will, not even a Playonair. While I think it might work well for some players, it's not really what I needed. I've since gone back to the Wolf Forte Secundo, which can be adjusted so that it sits practically on your collarbone, thereby freeing your left shoulder up more. Regardless of whether you're using a shoulder rest or not, make sure that your chinrest is adequately high. If you're having to really crane your head down to make enough contact with it to keep the violin from flying away when you downshift, it's probably not high enough, and you might be risking back problems. (I speak from bitter experience here.) Hope this helps, Trent
  8. I use the regular M-D. My luthier buddy gave me a chunk of it as an Xmas present. It's really, really good--as Todd says, it leaves little dust and works terrifically well, much better than the Obligato and Hill Light I had been using.
  9. The Obligatos aren't quite as loud under the ear as Dominants, but are a bit warmer and have more "presence." It's hard to describe. But I might go back to Dominants just because they're cheaper and are at least acceptable. I like Tonicas OK on my fiddle, but they're higher tension than either the Doms or the Obligatos. The Westminster isn't particularly whistle-prone. Usually if it whistles for me it's because of something that I'm doing. Hope this helps, Trent quote: Originally posted by shantinik: Trent -- I'm still breaking in my Dominants, and really like them. How have you found the obligatos differ from the Dominants? I used to use Zyex on my old violin, but that's a whole different kettle of fish (I live in the Pacific Northwest, and Zyex are VERY stable, but I find them maybe a bit more brittle in sound than the Dominants. I'm going to keep my Pirastro Gold E on for awhile, but will try the Westminster (and Hill) next. Any whistle in the Westminster? My luthier advised against the wound E, because I like the ring of the Gold E. But let us know how you find them. Thanks!
  10. While I'm thinking about strings: I've been using medium Obligatos, and while I like their sound and love their playability, they normally last three good months (if I'm lucky) and aren't quite as responsive nor as tonally focused as I'd like for them to be. I'm thinking about trying out a set of Helicores and would like to match their tension as closely as I can to the Obligatos. Could I get away with using heavy gauge Helicores (they're very light strings to the touch), or would mediums be better? Mucho thanko, Trent
  11. I have a Sofia too. Soundwise, what works best for me is the medium (26 ga.) Westminster E. I'm getting ready to try a clutch of wound Es, though, because I tend to strip the plating right off the unwound E after a week or two. Depending on the sound you're going for, you might also try stringing yours up with Obligatos--they work brilliantly on mine. Hope this helps, Trent
  12. Andres--This sounds interesting. Do you know of any Baroque bows available that are priced in the $500-1000 range? quote: Originally posted by Andres Sender: I just sold a baroque bow which got raves for its tone, was agile enough to satisfy a pro baroque player, and the new owner is using it for Klezmer work as well as baroque.
  13. Y'know, I've been thinking about getting a mic for a while, but hadn't even thought about using a headset model. What a brilliant idea! Thanks. Trent
  14. Claire, if you like the way your current chinrest fits your jaw, you might want to have a repairman raise the height of your chinrest by putting a shim under it. Or, if you're handy, you could just do it yourself, as Brian did. I took the first approach and it helped greatly. Hope this helps, Trent
  15. One other thing to bear in mind is that Sofias, at least where I bought mine, are set up rather conservatively. I got a *lot* more out of mine after my luthier removed some wood from the bridge's kidneys, fitted a newer, tighter soundpost, changed the stoplength and lowered the action. It was good before, but now it's fabulous. Hope this helps, Trent
  16. quote: Originally posted by Stephen: Infinitive is the general form of a verb, e.g., to be, to walk, to play, etc. If you split it, you stick something in between "to" and "XXX". The counter-example is "to ever split." Actually, Stephen, the infinitive form of a verb does NOT include the "to." It's just the verb that follows the "to." The "to" itself is just the infinitive marker, so it's impossible to split the infinitive. It's usually a bad idea to separate the two by very much b/c it can lead to incomprehension on the part of your readers, but frequently it's hard not to separate them without leading to barbaric and clumsy constructions. Hope this is interesting. Trent Hill, Ph.D. (in English)
  17. quote: Originally posted by Volcano: Help? Does anyone know anything about any connection between seizure activity and musicality? Catherine This is a fascinating question, Catherine. I worked as an admin last summer in the regional epilepsy center here in Seattle, but I don't remember hearing anything about any research on seizures and music (except that some forms of music can trigger seizures in some people with epilepsy). You might want to look at Robert Jourdain's book _Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy_ for a general discussion of neuroanatomy and music. One interesting irony here is that Handel himself was epileptic. Hope you're feeling better and that you get the seizures under control. Was this the first time you ever had them? Take care, Trent
  18. I have the _Gypsy Violin_ book, and it's quite good, especially the introductory and glossary material. Some of the pieces aren't that difficult as notated, but I don't know that I'd recommend the book as a whole unless you're comfortable (or are willing to get comfortable) with playing up to 7th position. But it's well worth the effort. If you want a more basic taste of the style, Elderly Music sells Miamon Miller's _Romanian Folk Violin_ series, which includes some of the same material. Even there, though, you need to be able at least to move around in first, third, and fifth.
  19. FYI, Shar now sells this in paperback for $30. Best $30 I ever spent. Trent quote: Originally posted by Marie Brown: Try to locate a copy of Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching by Ivan Galamian. You might have to look in a library. Shar offers the re-issue for $60. I bought my old one back when they could be had for $13.50. Maybe some of the younger players have used recent publications that draw on Galamian. Any suggestions?
  20. Journey, I've played guitar for about 23+ plus years now (though not so much in the last several). Callousing comes with the territory if you play steel-stringed instruments, but I suspect your friend has one or more of the following problems: 1) The action on his guitar is too high. Get it lowered. If he can't lower the strings without getting fret buzz, he might need to get his frets dressed or new ones installed. 2) His strings are too heavy. Try a lighter gauge. 3) He's hammering the strings too hard when he frets them. This is a really common problem among guitarists. Perhaps he should try fretting the strings as lightly as he can w/o getting fret buzz. (There are some left-hand finger pressure exercises for violin in Fischer's _Basics_ that could easily be transferred to guitar.) 4) His skin / nerves are more sensitive than average, and he might not be able to play a steel-stringed guitar without pain. Try a nylon-stringed guitar. This might require him to buy another guitar, but I've never known a guitarist to pass up that opportunity. (I speak from experience, having just bought a classical guitar last week.) Hope this helps, Trent
  21. I use Transcribe! It's really good and really cheap--free for the first 30 days, $29 to register. It'll slow things down to 1/16th speed and has independent pitch shift up to +/- one octave. The url is http://www.seventhstring.demon.co.uk
  22. Greta, congratulations. A bit of a digression: What's the title of the book you're referring to?
  23. Tara Publications is getting ready to publish a reissue of Koskowski's _International Hebrew Wedding Music_. Originally published ca. 1913, it contains an extensive repertoire of Eastern European music as collected and performed in the late 19th century. I'd say it's something comparable to O'Neill's in the Irish tradition. It's supposed to come out next month. The url for it is http://www.jewishmusic.com/cgi-bin/SoftCar...j1813+978755878. Hoping that some of you find this interesting, Trent
  24. I use unwound E strings on my violin, either tinned or chromed. Lately I've been noticing that they only last a week or so before the tinning starts wearing off at those points where I finger notes, resulting in the string either going false or squealing uncontrollably. This seems to happen regardless of the specific brand of string I'm using--so far I've tried Westminster, Pirastro Gold Label, and Goldbrokat. The same thing happens with gold-plated strings, but faster, and wound Es (at least the medium Pirastro Eudoxa E I tried) make the violin sound insipid and wispy. Doea anybody here have any suggestions or recommendations for an unwound, non-gold-plated E string that can take the punishment I'm administering to it? I s'pose I could just break down and put a new E on every week, but that seems a little excessive (or obsessive--take your pick. Thanks, Trent
  25. TB, as far as I can tell, the violin is yours. Your cousin gave it to your brother, who then gave it to you. You've had work don on it, you're using it, it's in your possession, it's yours. Perhaps I'm being harsh, but your cousin developed an interest in it only after you had managed to transform it from something that wasn't quite a wall hanging (and certainly not in your cousin's eyes an "heirloom") into a playable instrument. How you approach the problem depends on how close you are to the cousin and how important it is to you, your cousin (and, to some degree, your brother) to maintain peace in the family. You could, if you desire, 1) have the violin appraised and offer to buy his son one of comparable value; 2) ditto, and let him buy you one of c.v.; 3) rent one for his son until you can all tell whether the son really cares about it, and then decide whether to take approach (1) or (2). 4) explain to your cousin that the violin is legally yours, that you have no intention of seeing your grandfather's instrument be turned into a dusty knicknack, and give him your lawyer's contact address. (This would definitely NOT be my preferred approach, but from your description it sounds like you would be w/in your rights to do so.) Which approach you push for depends on whether you value the fiddle as an heirloom or as an instrument (and again, how important keeping the peace is to you). If you value it mainly as an instrument, I might push for (2); if its heirloom value is really important to you, you might push for (1). It sounds to me like the most important quality of the instrument for both you and your cousin is its connection to your grandfather, which is what makes the situation so difficult. But unless you left something out of your description--unless, that is, your cousin *lent* it to your brother who then lent it to you, and unless that was the arrangement as understood by everybody--it's really your fiddle, insofar as anything that can potentially outlive us is really "ours."
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